I WOULD RATHER DIE THAN BE A MARS MORON | 2004-01-17
Conservatives worshipped Proxmire. One day a congressman called me into his office. I was known for knowing a lot of things, including scientific terminology. He told me he wanted to do on the House side what Proxmire was doing in the Senate. He wanted me to look at the National Science Foundation weekly report and pick titles to ridicule.
There was no job security on Capitol Hill. You could be fired on the spot, and a lot of people were. I risked my career by telling the congressman that Proxmire was not only a moron, he was an enormously destructive moron. I told him about some of the basic research programs Proxmire had tried to destroy that had led to enormous advances. I explained to him that because of Proxmire the National Science Foundation had given grants to far less valuable research projects because they had titles Proxmire wouldn't attacked.
I asked the congressman not to be another Proxmire, and if he had to, to get someone else to do the dirty work. He actually listened and dropped it. I was very lucky. Not only can you lose your job by refusing point blank to do what a congressman asks, that is the best possible way not to get another job on Capitol Hill.
I would rather have died than be ruined professionally.
But I would rather have been ruined professionally than join the Moron Brigade that is attacking the Mars program right now.